April 3, 2013 |
Let that long-held breath out, folks. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer has picked up a lot of mysterious antimatter in low Earth orbit - but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a sign of dark matter. In fact, even with the 400,000 positrons picked up by the cosmic-ray experiment -- the largest number of such particles ever analyzed in space -- it's unclear whether those positrons result from decaying dark matter, or simply from pulsars sending particles into the universe. "What you have probably seen from the data is a significant new measurement," said Brown University physicist Richard Gaitskell, a lead scientist on a different dark matter detector called the Large Underground Xenon experiment.
March 20, 2013 |
Ladies and gentlemen, the Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system - or has it? Scientists are continuing to debate whether the lonesome craft has finally escaped the solar system after 35 years of travel or has simply entered a previously unknown region of solar influence. On Wednesday, a study published in Geophysical Research Letters , a journal of the American Geophysical Union, suggests that the Voyager spacecraft exited the heliosphere - that region of space dominated by solar winds and long considered to be the edge of the solar system - on Aug. 25, 2012.
December 20, 2012 |
Why are our hands the shape that they are? Compared with those of other apes, the thumb is longer and the palms and fingers are short. Scientist have a variety of ideas as to why they evolved to be that way: --The comparatively longer thumb allows us so much more dexterity, permitting us to make tools. --The proportions of the hand may be the indirect consequence of natural selection for a foot with a long toe, so handy for keeping balance while walking. (Hand and foot development occur along very similar lines, and many of the same molecules are involved.
February 4, 2014 |
Up and down the West Coast, starfish are dying. Casualties of a mysterious disease known as seastar wasting syndrome, they are dying in Alaska, deteriorating in San Diego and disappearing from long stretches in between. Death from the disease is quick and icky. It begins with a small lesion on a starfish's body that rapidly develops into an infection the animal cannot fight. Over the course of the disease the starfish's legs might drop off, or even separate from the body and start to crawl away, as you can see in the PBS news story below.
September 21, 2010 |
The dark dust thrown up by human activity in the deserts of the Southwest hastens the melting of Rocky Mountain snow and ultimately reduces the amount of water flowing into the upper Colorado River by about 5%, scientists reported Monday. The lost water amounts to more than 250 billion gallons — enough to supply the Los Angeles region for 18 months, said study leader Thomas H. Painter, a snow hydrologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "That's a lot of water," said Painter, whose study was published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
January 28, 2013 |
A team of storm-chasing scientists sampling rarefied air has found a world of bacteria and fungi floating about 30,000 feet above Earth. The findings, detailed Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that microbes have the potential to affect the weather. Scientists have long studied airborne bacteria, but they typically do so from the ground, often trekking to mountain peaks to examine microbes in fresh snow. Beyond that, they don't know much about the number and diversity of floating microbes, said study coauthor Athanasios Nenes, an atmospheric scientist at Georgia Tech.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 1, 2012 |
The catch of small, schooling fish such as sardines and anchovies should be cut in half globally and the amount left in the ocean doubled to protect the ecologically vital species from collapse, scientists say in a new report. The silvery species known as forage fish are harvested in huge numbers worldwide and are easy for fishermen to round up because they form dense schools, or "bait balls. " But wide fluctuations in their numbers make them especially vulnerable to overfishing, according to the report released Sunday by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, a 13-member panel of scientists from around the world.
December 4, 2010 |
Have scientists finally discovered the genetic fountain of youth? Hardly. But by creating a genetic switch that allows them to artificially age — and rejuvenate — lab mice, scientists have shown that it is possible to reverse some effects of aging in mammals. "It indicates there's a point of return if you remove the underlying cause of the aging," said Dr. Ronald DePinho, the molecular biologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School who led the study, published online this week in the journal Nature.
October 17, 2009 |
Is 2012 the end of the world? If you scan the Internet or believe the marketing campaign behind the movie "2012," scheduled for release in November, you might be forgiven for thinking so. Dozens of books and fake science websites are prophesying the arrival of doomsday that year, by means of a rogue planet colliding with the Earth or some other cataclysmic event. Normally, scientists regard Internet hysteria with nothing more than a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head. But a few scientists have become so concerned at the level of fear they are seeing that they decided not to remain on the sidelines this time.
May 11, 2012 |
In August, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will reach the Red Planet and begin its search for habitats that could have supported life. The next-generation rover, better known by the nickname Curiosity, will pick its way up a mound in the middle of Gale crater and look for evidence that water once flowed on the Martian surface - a condition that is considered a prerequisite for hosting microbial beings. On an expedition to the California desert this month to demonstrate some of the challenges Curiosity will face on Mars, scientists chatted about the upcoming mission.